In 2015, the UN will set new development goals. Why add a justice goal?
Evidence shows that access to justice boosts development.
- In the Philippines, the Asian Development Bank studied the impact of training community members as paralegals to support agrarian reform. Farmers in communities with paralegals saw higher levels of productivity, higher farm incomes, and more investment in their farms.
- In Indonesia, a local NGO used female paralegals to expand understanding about rights and entitlements in female-headed households. Alongside international partners, the NGO supported government reforms of state and religious justice institutions by raising awareness and assisting with women's cases, contributing to a fourfold increase in the number of women able to access circuit courts the following year.
- In Ecuador, the World Bank evaluated five legal service centers focused on enforcing child support payments for poor women and reducing domestic violence. The study found that the centers’ clients seeking child support were 20 percent more likely to succeed than those without access to legal aid. They were also 17 percent less likely to experience physical violence after separation from their partners.
- In India, filing claims under the Right to Information Act (RTIA) has helped New Delhi’s slum dwellers to obtain ration cards for subsidized foodstuffs. A Yale University study found that 94 percent of ration card applicants who filed RTIA inquiries into the status of their application received their cards within a year. Only 21 percent of those who did not file a claim received their cards.
- In Sierra Leone, extended or unlawful pretrial detention damages the prosperity and health of prisoners and their families. An Oxford University study showed that a program placing paralegals in prisons to provide free legal services has reduced the numbers of prisoners held on remand by 20 percent and increased the percentage gaining access to bail by 13 percent.
There are many, many more examples of justice improving development and reducing poverty. Visit the website of Open Society partner Namati to find out more.